We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Cauda Equina?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The cauda equina is a bundle of nerve roots located at the base of the spinal cord. The descriptive Latin name is a reference to the physical appearance of the cauda equina; it looks like a horse's tail. A rare neurological condition known as cauda equina syndrome can cause damage to the nerve roots involved, leading to lower back pain, loss of sensation in the legs, and incontinence.

When vertebrates develop, their spinal cords actually stop developing before their spines do. As a result, although people think of the spinal cord as something which runs down the length of the whole spine, it actually stops short. The cauda equina, which marks the end of the spinal cord, is located between the first and third lumbar vertebrae. It splits off into sacral, lumbar, and coccygeal nerves which feed out through the vertebrae.

In lumbar punctures, where a sample of spinal fluid is taken for analysis, the doctor taking the sample aims for the cauda equina with the needle. In these procedures, care is taken to hit the right area of the spine and to avoid injuring or traumatizing the patient. Stress on the part of the patient can complicate the procedure and the results, and patients may be offered sedatives in advance so that they will be able to relax.

The nerves which originate at the cauda equina are responsible for sending and receiving signals from the lower limbs and the organs in the pelvis. As a result, damage to the cauda equina can cause significant problems for the patient. This can include paralysis of the lower limbs, limb weakness and lack of coordination, and abnormal sensations in the lower limbs which become disruptive over time.

This region of the spinal cord can be injured by herniated discs, trauma, and degenerative diseases, among many other things. Signs of injury can include difficulty moving or controlling the lower limbs, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and tingling, fecal or urinary incontinence, and pain which may be localized in the lower back or distributed down the legs. Diagnostic testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can be used to identify damage to the cauda equina and develop a treatment plan for the patient.

Treatment of disorders involving the cauda equina usually involves a neurologist and a neurosurgeon or spinal specialist. The neurologist can perform patient evaluations which will provide information about the area and extent of the damage, while the surgeons can conduct repairs, if necessary.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.